What it's about:
Ever since Jack O'Donnell IV can remember, her parents have warned her to stay away from the Angerts. Their families are linked from way back, and when members of each clan cross paths, bad things happen. Like her father's mysterious and sudden death.
When Jack (known also as June, Junior, JuneBug, etc) runs into Saul, the youngest member of the Angert family (who has been gone from town for years), she expects the worst--but nothing bad seems to happen.
As the two grow closer, the magic of the O'Donnell's family farm and the mystery surrounding the curse shared by their families is slowly revealed--changing what they thought they knew about their entire lives.
What I thought:
I ADORED this book. The first thing I thought when I started reading about June's dad and his stories was the movie Big Fish--a dad who tells these really crazy magical stories like they actually happened--and maybe they did, maybe they didn't happen the way he says. This book is what you would get if you took Big Fish, Romeo and Juliet, and the Hatfields and McCoys, stuck them in a blender, poured them into a glass, and sprinkled them with a bit more magic. And I couldn't be more pleased with this strange combination.
The writing in this book is poetic and beautiful and very dreamlike--while also staying true to the story of June in the present. It kept me completely riveted and wanting to know more. I read Emily Henry's previous book, "The Love That Split The World", which I liked, but I really loved this one so much more.
The entire first half of the book--as I fell in love with the characters and the strange circumstances surrounding this big DO NOT GO NEAR THE ANGERTS mystery--I kept waiting for something truly awful to happen. That feeling of dread *almost* hindered my capacity to become entirely smitten with Saul (kudos to the author, by the way, for making the name Saul seem super attractive in this day and age), but I was able to overcome and totally got into the romance that blooms between the children of the warring families.
Once the mystery begins to be solved, the story takes a real turn emotionally. From a sweet forbidden romance, it becomes something much deeper in both depth and meaning, leading the characters through the grief they've felt for a decade, and that which has followed both of their families for generations. The writing is *so* poignant and touching, I found myself not sobbing with sadness, but consistently finding tears leaking from my eyes. My heart ached along with June and Saul as they uncovered more about their family histories in both the present and in the past.
I don't want to give too much away, because I really think this is one that's better when you go into it not knowing a whole lot of details. I loved trying to guess what was going on and found that a lot of my hunches were correct, which sort of added to the entertainment of reading it! I will say that this is definitely a book I'm going to be grabbing a hard copy of to take its rightful place on my bookshelf!
Rating: 5 stars.